DeMarcus Cousins shines in All-Star spotlight
The bright lights and big city have been known to crush weaker men.
As the basketball world watched, DeMarcus Cousins answered the challenge and cemented his place among the NBA’s elite.
The Sacramento Kings center scored 14 points on 6-of-7 field goals, added seven rebounds and lost one turnover in the Western Conference’s 163-158 All-Star win at Madison Square Garden. Even more impressive is that Cousins logged just 18 minutes of floor time, and earned nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter. Not bad for an injury replacement.
“Incredible experience,” Cousins told the media after the exhibition. “I’m humbled by it. It was a goal of mine coming up in this league and I finally reached it.”
Cousins didn’t check in until the start of the second quarter. He eventually grabbed an offensive rebound, and made an 18-foot jumper moments later. Cousins missed his next attempt, a contested layup from the left baseline, but quickly recovered with a slam in transition off a Klay Thompson feed. He subbed out with 4:26 in the second quarter to enter the half with four points and three rebounds.
Having just given up the lead, head coach Steve Kerr plugged Cousins back in with 2:51 in the third quarter. The pivot split a pair of free throws and pulled down only one rebound in the period, which misled viewers for what was in store.
In the fourth, Cousins quickly got rolling with a putback. Following a turnover, the 270-pound big snuck behind the East defense and cherry-picked his way to a dunk. Two possessions later, Cousins drew a 3-point play with an assist from Chris Paul. The King scored another short basket, before surrendering an and-one to Kyrie Irving which got him yanked with 4:19 to go.
All in all, Cousins put on an impressive, efficient, selfless display. The 24-year-old didn’t break any NBA or Sacramento records, but in his All-Star debut, he outplayed centers Brad Miller and Vlade Divac in their Kings exhibition showings. Cousins wasn’t aggressive on defense, but neither was anyone else, and he still managed to close out shooters. The big was also forced to share the rock with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who scored 41 and 29 points respectively.
Recharged with positive vibes, Cousins will return to Sacramento and begin work with his new head coach, George Karl. The offensive guru had to like what his star expressed on and off the court Sunday.
“My main focus is getting (the Kings) on the right track,” Cousins noted. “Do that part and everything else will come with it.”
Cousins was likely referring to wins, but perhaps a few more All-Star nominations are in order as well.